Three men defended two young women on a train in Portland, Oregon, from a violent man with a knife last Friday, May 26. The attacker, Jeremy Christian, was reported to have been using hate speech against Destinee Magnum and her friend for appearing middle eastern and for wearing a hijab.
“I hope they all die. I’m gonna say that on the stand. I’m a patriot, and I hope everyone I stabbed died,” Christian was recorded saying in the police car after the incident.
Christian faces nine charges: two counts of aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, first-degree assault, three counts of unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of intimidation. The maximum punishment for an aggravated murder charge is the death penalty.
Magnum said she and her friend, who was wearing a hijab, were targeted by Christian at the Hollywood Transit Center train station.
“He told us to go back to Saudi Arabia, and he told us we shouldn’t be here, to get out of his country,” she told KPTV-TV, a local news station in Portland, “He was just telling us that we basically weren’t anything and that we should kill ourselves.”
Three men intervened and were all stabbed brutally, including Ricky Best who died at the scene, Taliesin Namkai-Meche who died at the hospital and Micah Fletcher who is being treated at a hospital.
“Me and my friend were going to get off the MAX and then we turned around while they were fighting and he just started stabbing people,” Destinee Magnum said, “It was just blood everywhere and we just started running for our lives.”
2017 IUS alumni and retired Staff Sgt. Jose Aponte met Staff Sgt. Ricky Best in 2008 while in Fort Hood, Texas before deployment to Afghanistan.
“I knew him as a good man that always cared about his soldiers and would go out of his way to help them out,” Aponte said.
There is evidence on social media that Christian has targeted minority groups before.
The Daily Stormer – a neo-Nazi website – supported Christian, saying he was defending himself. Andrew Anglin, who runs the white supremacist website, wrote: “Again, it has to be said: when our people attack their people (if that is indeed what happened), the reason is the same as when the opposite happens: it is because they are in our countries in the first place.”
In March 2016 Christian shared a news article containing a picture of Hillary Clinton wearing a hijab.
“I’ll knock that Hijab off her faster than you can say Burka in Pig Latin if she steps in Rip City,” he said in the post.
Christian attended a free speech rally in Portland on April 26 where police confiscated a baseball bat he had been reported using to threaten liberal protestors.
He was later filmed performing a Nazi salute and shouting racial obscenities while wearing an American flag as a cape.
On his Facebook page he has praised Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh on the anniversary of the bombing.
“May all the Gods Bless Timothy McVeigh a TRUE PATRIOT!!!” he wrote. McVeigh was sentenced to death for the 1995 bombing, which killed 168 and was the most devastating terrorist attack on U.S. soil before Sept. 11, 2001.
Jose Aponte said he wants the government to intervene between white supremacists like Christian and minority groups before incidents like the stabbing on the Portland train occur.
“I think that the federal and local governments need to do more about people like Jeremy Christian,” Aponte said. “This wasn’t his first run in with the law, this wasn’t the first time he spouted hate speech at innocent people. This behavior has been going on for years. The events from this past weekend could have been avoided.”
President Donald Trump advocated for minority groups rights in a Facebook post last Tuesday, “Christian supremacist Jeremy Joseph Christian murdered two men during a hate crime in Portland after yelling obscenities at two Muslim women celebrating Ramadan. Extremism does not represent any religion, and from now on, I’ll recognize that for Christians and Muslims alike. Extremism must be stamped out. Moderates of all faiths as well as those with no creed can all progress together as allies for justice and safety for all.”
Online funding pages and social media support has emerged for the families of the victims and the man and women who survived the attack.
“I just want to say thank you to the people who put their life on the line for me,” Mangum told KPTV. “Because they didn’t even know me and they lost their lives because of me and my friend and the way we look.”